Let me start with a reassurance: You don’t need a new TV to enjoy your PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X. These machines will run just fine on the TV you already own. And while a new HDMI 2.1 TV will enable you to get the most out of a PS5 or Xbox, these systems are worth the upgrade even if you don’t plan to buy a new TV for years.
Also, TVs are a mess. Even if you get the right one, setting it up correctly with your console is an obtuse chore. If you wait, it’s likely that companies like LG, Sony, and Samsung will improve the experience for connecting consoles and PCs.
All that said, you will get more from your consoles with the right television. And right now, the list of TVs that qualify for that designation has only one real option that you should look out for when you’re shopping this Black Friday and beyond.
The right TV for gaming: LG CX
One of the nice things about so few TVs supporting HDMI 2.1 and all of its impressive features is that it’s easy to make a recommendation. The LG CX is the No. 1 choice.
Price: $1,400 for 55-inch model
Where to buy: Best Buy
What makes LG’s CX the clear favorite? It’s a combination of factors starting with its OLED panel. Unlike LCDs TVs, OLEDs use self-emitting pixels. That means that OLEDs create their own light. This is important because when the TV needs to produce black, it shuts off those OLED nodes instead of blocking a traditional LED local light within an array. The simple way of putting that is that OLEDs are capable of producing true blacks even within otherwise bright images.
But it’s not just about sharp image quality. The CX is capable of 4K at 120Hz, which is a key feature of HDMI 2.1, the new consoles, and the new crop of video cards from AMD and Nvidia. Perhaps even more important is support for variable refreshrate, which enables the TV to sync with your console or PC hardware to eliminate tearing and stuttering. VRR is the generic name for Freesync and Gsync, and the CX supports both. Xbox Series X has VRR. And while PS5 doesn’t, it’s likely something Sony could and will add in an eventual update.
Finally, the CX gets you automatic-low-latency mode (ALLM). This switches the TV into a Game Mode automatically when it detects the signal from you console or PC. That might not sound like a huge deal, but it’s one less thing for people to worry about.
Of course, the real benefit of getting the CX is that it should get you through the entire console generation. You aren’t going to upgrade and then feel the need to do so again in a couple of years. This will get you everything you need with stunning image quality.
More affordable HDMI 2.1 option: Samsung RU8000
You might find the LG CX for as low as $1,200 this holiday. And prices are going to continue dropping on OLEDs. But what if you want to spend significantly less money for something that is still really good? Well, Samsung has you with its Class 8 Series TVs.
Price: $900 for 65-inch model
Where to buy: Best Buy
Like the LG, Samsung’s RU8000 supports HDMI 2.1. It is capable of 2160p120, VRR, and ALLM. But you’ll make some sacrifice in image quality. It’s in no way a bad screen. But it just doesn’t have the wow factor of LG’s OLED tech.
Other options for specific circumstances
Here are a couple of other TVs to consider.
Samsung’s Q80R is one I tested late last year, and it was great for my home before I sent it back. I live in Colorado, where many houses have giant two-story windows letting in all of the sun’s light for most of the day. In such a bright environment, most TVs will struggle with reflections and glare. But not the Q80R. It has an incredible anti-glare coating and filter that outperforms most other TVs in a bright room. Samsung has since updated to the Q90T, which should give the same performance in a lot of ambient daylight, but it also has excellent HDR and black levels. It’s available at Amazon for $1,898 for 65 inches.
If you’re wondering about Vizio’s new, affordable OLED TVs, those are likely going to help bring down prices. But these sets also have a number of bugs including one that prevents VRR from working at 2160p120. So I would wait until next year’s Vizios or until the current models get a software update.
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